How to Get A New Jersey Driver’s License (A Complete 2023 Guide)

How to Get A New Jersey Driver’s License

So, you’re thinking about getting a New Jersey driver’s license — that’s great!

But, you might be a bit confused with the whole process.

Should you get a Special Learner Permit or Examination Permit?

What is the next step?

How do you complete each licensing stage?

We’re here to answer all those questions and more. 

Today, we’re going to give you an updated and complete guide on how to get a New Jersey driver’s license. 

We won’t leave anything out. 

Now, there’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

New Jersey Driver’s License Requirements

In New Jersey, everyone working on their first driver’s license must undergo a graduated driver’s license program. It involves three out of four stages:

  • Getting a Special Learner Permit
  • Getting an Examination Permit
  • Getting a Probationary License
  • Getting a Basic Driver’s License

Yes, this applies to everyone, no matter how old. However, depending on your age, your starting point may be different. 

Let’s take a closer look at each stage. 

How to Get a Special Learner Permit in New Jersey

If you’re between 16 and 17 years old, you can choose to get a Special Learner Permit. Here’s how to get it:

  1. Enroll in behind-the-wheel training from your local high school or a registered driving school

NOTE: Completing an online driver’s ed course may provide the basic information about operating a vehicle, but it won’t satisfy New Jersey’s requirement.

  1. Present the following documents at your driving school:
    1. A filled-out Special Learner’s Permit Form (BA-412D) signed by your parent or legal guardian
    2. Proof of identity and date of birth (1 primary and 1 secondary)
    3. Proof of US citizen or legal presence
    4. Proof of your residence in New Jersey
    5. Proof of your Social Security Number

NOTE: You can check this link to see which documents you can use.

  1. Have your driving instructor purchase a Special Learner Permit.

NOTE: This permit is valid for two years. It’s best to complete the rest of the steps before it expires. Otherwise, you will have to apply for a new one.

  1. Pass the following tests at your school:
    1. Vision screening
    2. Knowledge exam
  1. Have the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) validate your Special Learner Permit once you complete your behind-the-wheel training.
  1. Purchase your red decals for $4 and put them on your car.

NOTE: There is a designated place for these decals — the top left corner of your front and rear plates.

Now you can begin gaining driving experience! 

However, don’t forget about these restrictions:

  • A licensed driver at least 21 years old must sit in the front passenger seat when you’re behind the wheel. The driver also must have 3 or more years of driving experience.
  • You can only drive between 5 am and 11 pm.
  • You cannot use any electronic device (such as a mobile phone) while driving.
  • Besides your parent, guardian, or dependent, you can only have one other passenger. Everyone must buckle up.

How to Get an Examination Permit in New Jersey

If you’re already 17 and older, you won’t need to secure a Special Learner’s Permit anymore. Instead, you need an Examination Permit. 

Here’s how to get it:

  1. Gather the following documents:
    1. A completed Application for Permit / License / Non-Driver ID Form (BA-208)
    2. Have a parent or legal guardian consent (if below 18 years old)
    3. Proof of identity and date of birth (primary and secondary)
    4. Proof of New Jersey residence
    5. Proof of your social security number

NOTE: It’s best to ensure you have the correct paperwork — check this link to get a complete list of what you can use.

  1. Schedule a visit online to purchase a permit. 
  1. During your visit, do the following:
    1. Submit your documents 
    2. Pay the $10 permit fee
    3. Purchase your red decals for $4 (unless you’re above 21)
  1. Schedule an appointment for your knowledge test 
  1. During your scheduled date, do the following:
    1. Show proof of examination permit
    2. Submit your documents (mentioned above)
    3. Pass the vision test
    4. Pass the knowledge exam
  1. Get your permit validated by the MVC.

A validated permit allows you to practice supervised driving. However, ensure you don’t violate these restrictions:

  • You cannot drive from 11:01 pm to 5:00 am*
  • A driver at least 21 years old with 3+ years of driving experience must supervise you from the front passenger seat*
  • You cannot use electronic devices, whether handheld or with hands-free features
  • Your passengers are limited to a dependent and one other person 
  • You must ensure that your plates show the red decals*

NOTE: All restrictions marked with an asterisk (*) do not apply if you are 21 or older.

How to Get a Probationary License in New Jersey

Whether you hold a Special Learner Permit or an Examination Permit, the next stage is a Probationary License. 

Now, before you can apply for this license, you must comply with the following requirements:

  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Hold your permit for a time to gain enough driving experience:
    • 6 months if you’re under 21 years old
    • 3 months if you’re 21 or older
  • You must NOT have suspensions or postponements

If you checked off all the boxes, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Schedule your road test through the DMV online scheduling system or one of the MVC’s driving testing centers.
  1. Bring the following to your appointment:
    1. Proof of identity and date of birth (primary and secondary)
    2. Proof of New Jersey residence
    3. Proof of your social security number
    4. Your valid permit
    5. A licensed driver at least 21 years old who’s had their New Jersey license for 3 years or longer (if under 21 years old)
    6. A qualified vehicle for your road test, with a current inspection sticker and insurance papers

NOTE: Click here to see whether your vehicle meets the MVC’s standards.

  1. Pass your road test. The MVC will stamp your permit when you do.

NOTE: If you don’t pass, you must wait 14 days before retaking it.

  1. Get your Probationary License. 

NOTE: It may be available at your road test location. If not, you can go to any licensing center with your stamped permit and documents to get it. 

Having a Probationary License allows you to drive unsupervised. However, don’t forget about these restrictions:

  • No driving from 11:01 pm to 5:00 am*
  • No using of any electronic device while behind the wheel
  • You can’t have more than one passenger, except if you’re with a parent or guardian*
  • You must ensure everyone inside the vehicle is wearing seatbelts.
  • Your plates must have red decals.*

NOTE: Restrictions with an asterisk (*) do not apply to drivers 21 or older.

How to Get a Basic Driver’s License in New Jersey

We’re down to the last stage — getting your Basic Driver’s License.

You’ll be happy to know that you can do this online!

Here are the requirements and steps:

  1. Be at least 18 years old.
  1. Hold your Probationary License for a year to gain enough unsupervised driving experience.
  1. Log on to New Jersey’s License Upgrade page.
  1. Encode the necessary information and follow the prompts on the screen.
  1. Pay the prorated licensing fee through Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover credit card:
    1. $24 for a standard license
    2. $35 for a REAL ID-Compliant license
  1. Print out your interim license. Your official one will arrive by mail within 10 to 20 business days.

If you aren’t comfortable doing online transactions, then you can upgrade it from an office, too. 

Simply go to an MVC licensing office, submit the basic documents (see above) and your valid Probationary License, pay the licensing fee, and get your Basic Driver’s License. 

And just like that, you now have full driving privileges in New Jersey. 



Need more information? Then let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

How long does it take to get a New Jersey driver’s license?

It’ll take around 1½ -2 years to get through the stages of New Jersey’s GDL program. If you begin at 21 years old, you will get your full license sooner since it requires less driving experience. 

How much does a driver’s license cost in NJ?

You’ll need to prepare several hundred dollars to get your license in New Jersey. How much your behind-the-wheel training cost is usually the variable.

Rates can vary significantly between providers. For example, some schools offer packages as low as $280, while others go as high as $400 to $500.

The rest of your expenses are for the following:

  • $10 permit fee
  • $4 for red decals
  • $24 for a standard license or $35 for a REAL ID-Compliant license

Can I get a New Jersey driver’s license online?

If you already have a Probationary License, you can now upgrade it to a Basic Driver’s License online! Just go to the MVC’s license upgrading page and follow the prompts.

Remember, you must have a credit card and a printer to complete the process.

Can I take the New Jersey written test online?

No, you must take your written exam at an MVC office. There are no offers for online written tests in the state. 

How do I pass the New Jersey knowledge test?

All items in the knowledge exam are from New Jersey’s driver’s manual, so it’s best to study that. However, you can also take online prep exams to help you prepare.

How many times can you fail the NJ knowledge test?

New Jersey doesn’t limit how many times you can fail the knowledge exam. However, you must wait 7 days before retaking it.

Also, your permit is only valid for 2 years. You must purchase another one if you don’t pass your knowledge test within that time.

How long is the New Jersey driver’s test?

A typical road test lasts between 10 to 15 minutes. During that time, the safety specialist will ask you to demonstrate several driving maneuvers. 

Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Stopping at appropriate signs, turning around, and driving in reverse
  • Nearing corners or intersections
  • Sitting and steering properly
  • Parallel parking
  • Yielding to right-of-way

Do I get my license on the same day in New Jersey?

You can get a temporary license when upgrading your Probationary License to a Basic one. Your official credential will arrive in around 20 business days through the mail.

How do I transfer my out-of-state license to New Jersey?

You have 60 days to transfer your out-of-town license. Fortunately, the process is simple:

  1. Schedule an appointment at an MVC licensing center
  2. Bring your valid driver’s license and the necessary documents:
    1. 6 Points ID
    2. Proof of residence
    3. Proof of Social Security Number
  3. Have your photo taken
  4. Pay $10 for a transfer permit.
  5. Surrender your out-of-state license and get a New Jersey-issued one.

The Wrap Up

And there you have it — absolutely everything you need to know on how to get a New Jersey driver’s license. 

Not only did we go through all the steps in the various stages of the GDL program, but we also answered the most common questions. 

And now that you know all this, what are you waiting for?

You can get started right away!

Good luck!

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